I added a contact form to Self Help Daily, similar to one I use on my other web sites. I use these contact forms to give my beloved visitors the opportunity to tell me what sort of subjects they’re interested in reading about.
After all, I want to gear my content toward what interests you, not gear you toward what interests me!
One of my first responses was from a woman (or husband?!?!) who wanted “desperately” to know if I knew of any herbs or natural remedies for menopause-related symptoms. Apparently the victim can’t even drink her morning coffee because her night sweats and hot flashes are so bothersome.
Can’t drink morning coffee?!?! I knew right away we were dealing with an emergency. I truly… I just… no, I can’t even imagine. Since this did rank as an emergency, I e-mailed her/him right away with the most important advice:
- Iced Coffee is equally delicious.
- Just as much caffeine rides into town on a cold horse as it does on a hot one.
Here’s what I’ve been able to find out about menopause-related symptoms:
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, was once the standard treatment for women suffering from menopause-related discomforts. However, its use has been drastically reduced because of concerns over serious side effects. A lot of people, like this particular coffee-deprived visitor, are looking for alternative treatments for easing menopause-related symptoms. (On a side note, I know “menopause-related symptoms” sounds wordy and I apologize, but sometimes I get hung up on grammar and I wrestle with words the way Jacob wrestled with the angel. When I type in menopausal symptoms, I don’t like the way it sounds – it seems as though the symptoms, themselves, are dealing with night sweats, mood swings, weight fluctuations, etc.)
There are herbal remedies that many menopausal and pre-menopausal women use, and swear by, to counter their discomforts. As with any herb, keep in mind that these herbs are medicinal and should be used with caution.
- Black Cohosh. Apparently this herb is the most popular among menopausal women. The root of this plant contains phytoestrogens, which actually imitate the body’s own estrogen. Many studies have found it to be both safe and effective. According to the North American Menopause Society, black cohosh may be helpful in easing hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, although its effects are usually short term (about six months or so). Take note, however: If you take a prescription medication for high blood pressure, check with your doctor because black cohosh may interact with it.
- Dong Quai. The root of Dong Quai also contains phytoestrogens. Dong Quai is often used to relieve menstrual complaints and PMS, but it is often included with other herbs, including black cohosh, ginseng, and chasteberry in products that help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
- Flaxseed. Research from none other than Mayo Clinic shows that flaxseed may reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. Some studies even suggest that flaxseed may lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Mayo Clinic researchers found that eating two tablespoons of ground flaxseed twice a day can cut the intensity of hot flashes by 57 percent. Flaxseed oil is another option. I can’t vouch for the flavor, but from what I’ve read, many people add ground flaxseed to oatmeal, salads, and even sandwiches. It sounds like it’s worth a try, right?
Dealing With Hot Flashes
According to Harvard Health Publications, a woman should watch out for certain “triggers.”
Some possible triggers of hot flashes are hot beverages, spicy food, warm air temperatures, stressful situations, alcohol, caffeine, and some medications. If you can identify your own triggers, you may be able to avoid some hot flashes. Keep a diary to note which of these or other triggers were present before each hot flash. Review it each week to pinpoint the most common triggers.
During the day, dress in layers so that you can take off garments when needed. If possible, regulate the air conditioning and heat in your environment to accommodate your temperature changes. If you wake up hot at night, sleep in a cool room. Go to bed with a frozen cold pack under your pillow, and turn the pillow over when you wake up. Keep a change of nightclothes next to your bed so that you can change easily if you wake up soaked.
Some women find deep-breathing exercises helpful. Research suggests that a technique called paced respiration can cut in half the frequency of hot flashes. To perform paced respiration, take slow, deep, full breaths expanding and contracting the abdomen gently while inhaling and exhaling at a rate of about six to eight breaths per minute. One of the best ways to learn paced respiration is by taking a yoga class. Practice this technique twice a day for 15 minutes. You can also use paced respiration whenever you feel a hot flash coming on. Stress-relief techniques and biofeedback may also be of some benefit.
Increasing the soy in your diet has been shown to be helpful in some but not all studies. Over-the-counter remedies that some women find helpful include preparations of black cohosh, sold under the brand name Remifemin. There are many other products containing plant estrogens (phytoestrogens), but many have not been scientifically evaluated for either safety or efficacy. Some women report that vitamin E is helpful, but compelling evidence to support this is lacking.
Dealing With Emotional Turmoil During Menopause
Although walking and physical fitness hasn’t been shown to help alleviate hot flashes, regular exercise does help with the anxiety, depression, and stress that menopause often carts into a woman’s life. Staying active is one of the best things she can do, even when it’s the last thing she wants to do!
“The level of anxiety, stress and depression were significantly lower among physically active, postmenopausal women compared to postmenopausal women in the lowest” level of physical activity, the researchers reported in the January issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Exercise may not make the hot flashes go away, but at least it can help with the other baggage. Perhaps then, a menopausal woman will be able to cope with the hot flashes better. I sat across the table from a hot flash once and it was a terrifying thing. I was in my early 30’s, the flasher was in her 50’s, and she scared the wits out of me. She was like, “Is it as hot as he!! in here?” and I thought, “No, but it’s at least as scary.”
Which brings me to this: Be extra considerate and loving to a female suffering from menopause and pre-menopause. You may be viewing a meltdown, but she’s living it. Do extra-special things for her, things that’ll lift her spirits and reassure you that you love her as much today as you ever did – possibly more.
- Send her flowers at work.
- Send flowers to her at home.
- Take off early and ask her what she’d like done in the yard. Offer to plant a tree, build an herb garden, install bird feeders near her favorite window, set up a bird bath, or build a swing.
- Take her to a chick flick! (pssst, take extra tissues)
- Call her and tell her you’re on your way home from work and that you’re bringing pizza.
- Write her a love note.
- Two words: Starbucks Card. Okay, three words: Loaded Starbucks card.
A final word, if you love someone who is going through this ridiculous time, be as understanding, patient, and loving as you would be with an expectant mother. Neither can fully control what’s going on inside of them and, frankly, both are frightened more times than not.